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U.K. takes another tiny step to smart energy system

Energy regulator Ofgem has announced it aims to bring in market-wide half-hourly settlement across the retail electricity market – from October 2025. The long timescale reflects a sluggish attitude at an inconsistent regulator which appears to be planning an unpredictable route to net zero.
Technology

Submarine cable to connect 10.5 GW wind-solar complex in Morocco to the UK grid

UK-based Xlinks is planning to build 10.5 GW of wind and solar in Morocco and sell the power generated by the huge plant in the UK. This should be made possible by a 3,800 km high voltage direct current (HVDC) transmission line that would be connected to...
Energy Storage

Add electric vehicles, not bulk transmission, for a low-cost, clean grid: UC Berkeley study

A 90% clean grid with a transition to EVs would achieve lower electricity costs than one without, the study shows. Transmission investments would mainly be spur lines to new renewable generation.
Announcements

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Manufacturing

Solliance hits 28.7% efficiency on perovskite/silicon tandem solar cell

The Dutch consortium has achieved the record result by combining, in a four-terminal tandem configuration, an 18.6% efficient highly near-infrared transparent perovskite with a prototype of a c-Si interdigitated back contact (IBC) silicon heteroJunction ...
Manufacturing

Meyer Burger buys wafers from different manufacturers

Before the official start of production, the Swiss photovoltaic manufacturer signed contracts with several suppliers that only use polysilicon produced by Wacker Chemie. Meyer Burger plans to start producing its solar modules and cells in Germany in the ...
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Markets & Policy

Developer secures first approval for 300 MW unsubsidized solar plant in Germany

The Anklam municipality approved the resolution for the project construction. The land-use planning for what could become the largest planned photovoltaic power plant in Germany to date can now begin.
Markets & Policy

Sweden to devote another $30.8 million to PV rebates for homeowners

The new budget will be devoted to private individuals only. The Swedish Energy Agency has so far devoted around $570 million to the solar rebate program, for the 2009-21 period.
Markets & Policy

Longi crowned king of solar with 24.5 GW of panels shipped in 2020

With production capacity expanded for solar wafers, cells and modules last year, and set to rise again in 2021, the giant is targeting shipments of 40 GW of panels this time around.

Press Releases

New presence of PI Berlin in Italy in response to PV boom

With solar expert Giuseppe Farinato, PI Berlin now has a foothold in Italy.

Ecoppia’ s advanced robotic technology now powers automated solar panel cleaning at AES California site

Ecoppia announced today that it has completed the installation of its robots at a solar site in California, USA, operated by The AES Corporation, a Fortune 500 global energy company that provides greener, smarter energy solutions in 15 countries worldwide. AES is the largest private owner of operating solar assets in the United States.

Structural change at meteocontrol inspires advancing internationalization

meteocontrol GmbH, a global provider of independent monitoring and control systems for photovoltaic plants, has filled the newly created position of Head of Business Development & International Sales with an experienced employee. Mauricio López has been responsible for Business Development & International Sales since April 1, 2021.

Apricum appoints solar development expert Jesse Atkinson as senior advisor

Apricum is pleased to announce the appointment of Jesse Atkinson to its senior advisor team.

Opinion & Analysis

Featured

Battery testing builds certainty

Owners and operators of energy storage systems, as well as investors, need transparent ways to evaluate battery performance. They need certainty that the selected batteries for their ESS projects will perform reliably, have predictable life expectancies, and meet projected revenue and contractual obligations over their lifetimes. The economic viability of entire projects depend on this confidence, writes Michael Kleinberg of DNV.

Analysis of France’s CRE4 PV tenders and their impact

This year will witness the end of the French program for PV tenders known as “CRE4”, which began in 2016. To date, they have enabled over 7.2 GW of solar capacity to benefit from a subsidized tariff (feed-in tariff or feed-in premium). A few months before the last CRE4 tenders and the launch of the PPE2 (or CRE5), Finergreen evaluates their impact on the French solar industry.

We all trust the PV performance ratio test – but should we?

The performance ratio test is at the core of the handover from EPC to owner. Yet sometimes, even when best practice is applied – and without particularly demanding guaranteed values to be achieved – these tests fail good projects. This can lead to costly delays and wasted effort spent trying to find issues that might not exist. Everoze Partner Dario Brivio reviews the likelihood of this happening and considers ways to increase confidence in the precision of such tests, based on recent independent analysis of real-world projects.

Solar and silver price hikes

The PV industry has experienced several rounds of price increases since the second half of 2020, from polysilicon to materials such as PV glass and films. Between July 2020 and February 2021, prices quoted for 3.2 mm and 2 mm glass surged by more than 60% per square meter. Prices for EVA and POE encapsulant films skyrocketed by more than 40% and 10%, respectively. Prices for silver paste also rose 7%, and have since remained stubbornly high. PV InfoLink Chief Analyst Corrine Lin examines the impact of silver’s recent price turbulence on PV cell manufacturing.

Strong growth ahead for battery storage

Annual battery storage installations will exceed 10 GW/28 GWh in 2021, following a particularly strong year in 2020, despite the challenges created by the global pandemic, writes IHS Markit analyst Mike Longson. Combined solar and storage will be a core focus for new deployment in 2021, as the front-of-the-meter and behind-the-meter energy storage markets are both expected to grow significantly in the months ahead.

Africa’s solarized digitalization agenda

The seventh session of the Africa Regional Forum on Sustainable Development convened on the theme of “Building forward better towards a resilient and green Africa to achieve the 2030 & 2063 Agenda” and promote the economic, social and environmental dimensions of sustainable development.

Covid-19

Featured

India’s solar imports dipped 75% in ten months

Covid-19 disruption has been cited as the chief culprit as imports from China, Thailand and Vietnam slumped from April to January, but safeguarding duty also appears to have had an impact, with unaffected imports from nations such as Myanmar, Chad and Russia on the rise and Malaysian trade keeping steady.

Covid delays drove 20% dip in solar project revenue for Chinese developer last year

But new ventures into coal-fired steam and petrochemicals products helped state-owned China Shuifa Singyes towards a significantly healthier balance sheet in 2020.

GCL confirms thumping annual loss for 2020

The polysilicon maker lurched from a $17m profit in 2019 to a $960 million loss last year, according to an unaudited extract from its overdue annual figures. Publication is being held up by an auditor enquiry relating to a $71m abandoned-production-project pre-payment which appears to be either owed by, or to, a GCL subsidiary.

UK added 175 MW of solar in first quarter

More than 7% of the U.K.’s solar generation capacity is now unsubsidized, according to trade body Solar Energy UK, with the nation reaching more than 14 GW of photovoltaic projects during the first three months of the year.

Focus of off-grid funding shifts in Africa

West Africa hogged more than twice as much investment as the east in a year which saw stock market backing plunge an ‘alarming’ 46%, leaving donor grant funding and debt to pick up the slack during a Covid-hit year, according to off-grid industry body GOGLA.

Solar changing shape of electricity prices in Northern Europe

Rising volumes of photovoltaic project capacity are increasing the incidence of negative price periods for electricity–and changing the times of day when they occur.

Markets & Policy

Featured

What Asia needs to turn away from coal

Given the rapid decrease of the solar electricity cost, pv magazine explores the drivers and obstacles behind switching off coal and embracing photovoltaics and other renewable energy technology in Asia. The good news: things are moving in the right direction.

Australian regulator proposes rewards for new, ultra-fast services in the electricity market

The Australian Energy Market Commission has released proposals to reward fast frequency services in the National Electricity Market for the first time.

France publishes second-quarter FITs for PV systems up to 100 kW

The feed-in tariff granted reduces each quarter, in line with how much solar capacity was installed in the previous three-month period.

PV-powered desalination system for rural areas

Italian start-up Genius Watter has developed a solar desalination solution that is claimed to be particularly suitable for remote areas with no connection to grid electricity. The system is able to produce up to 1,000 cubic meters of potable water per day at an opex of €0.20 per cubic meter.

Irico emphasizes picture of boom time for solar panel glassmakers

The state-owned PV glass manufacturer, which claims to be one of the world’s big three, hived off its distracting new materials, solar module, and solar project development businesses to focus entirely on its core output in 2020.

Colombia to hold renewables auction by the end of October

Project selected in the auctions will be granted a 15-year PPA and will have to begin delivering power in December 2022.

Installations

Featured

The future is female among Egyptian engineers

How do you achieve gender equality among shift-working engineers in a remote location in North Africa? With a clear vision and concrete measures, according to Scatec’s operations and maintenance (O&M) team in Egypt, which has a 30% share of female engineers.

SunPower builds two brownfield solar projects in the US

The solar energy projects are expected to offset around one-third of the electric demand of Baltimore’s public buildings.

Spanish developer plans 1 GW solar plant coupled to 80 MW of storage, 100 MW electrolyzer

Soto Solar has submitted the project proposal to the Ministry of the Ecological Transition and the Demographic Challenge (Miteco). The solar plant could start production in 2023 or 2024 and will have a generation capacity of more than 2,000 GWh/year.

India’s NTPC tenders 1 GW of solar capacity, BHEL issues global tender to select module partners

Developers have until May 27 to submit bids for NTPC’s projects anywhere in India. BHEL is seeking module supply partners for an aggregate 750 MW of panels.

Two firefighters killed after Beijing battery blaze

An explosion occurred as firefighters were dealing with a fire in a 25 MWh lithium-iron phosphate battery associated with a 1.4 MW rooftop array at a shopping mall in the Chinese capital on Friday.

Australian solar installer receives unexpected response from customers after switching exclusively to microinverters

Solar installer Jake Warner has received surprising feedback from his customers after he chose to transition his company, Penrith Solar, exclusively to microinverters two months ago. “What I found is actually the opposite to what I expected,” Warner told pv magazine Australia

Technology

Featured

Filling the energy technology, poverty gap

Advanced technology is of little use if it cannot reach those who need it most. Two Indonesian companies – Kopernik, an NGO based in Bali, and Sumba Sustainable Solutions, from the island of Sumba – are trying to bridge the gap between those in need and those with technological solutions. They both focus on the PV electrification of rural areas and brightening Indonesia’s “last mile.”

Polysilicon passivate junctions getting closer to commercial production of c-Si modules

A new study from Australia has highlighted the potential of polysilicon passivated junctions for revolutionizing the commercial production of crystalline silicon solar panels. It also presented, however, the technical and economic hurdles that must still be removed to ensure its success, including the damage that this technology can produce for the polysilicon layers, due to the cell’s metallization process.

British company to produce solid-state lithium-sulfur products this year

Oxfordshire-based Oxis Energy says it will produce the less flammable devices sought by the aviation industry using the same manufacturing processes as those used to make lithium-ion and conventional-lithium-sulfur products.

Global database for PV system performance

The database brings together photovoltaic performance data and meteorological values from PV systems located in all climate zones. It is being built by an international consortium including the Fraunhofer Center for Silicon Photovoltaics CSP, and the Anhalt University of Applied Sciences.

The Hydrogen Stream: 20 MW green hydrogen plant in Finland, two Australian projects move forward

Storegga, Shell and Harbour Energy want to set up a 20 MW blue hydrogen production facility in the U.K. Australia’s Origin Energy wants to build a hydrogen facility at the Port of Townsville, in Queensland. South African company Sasol and Toyota South Africa Motors have announced a partnership to “commence exploration of the development of a green hydrogen mobility ecosystem in South Africa,” starting with zero-emission hydrogen fuel cell (FC) heavy-duty, long-haul trucks.

Pollinator-focused solar parks

Researchers in the US ascertained that the partial shading provided by solar parks creates a microclimate that favors the abundant growth of more varied flowers and pollinators. They also found that partial shading increases bloom abundance by delaying bloom timing, increasing forage for pollinators during the hot and dry late season.

Manufacturing

Featured

Bifacial adoption spurs rethink on PID

PV systems are unique among electronic devices, as they are expected to survive outdoors for at least 25 to 30 years. This makes module and system quality one of the cornerstones of guaranteed returns on investment. Potential-induced degradation (PID) is a critical failure mode with a potentially high financial impact. New research from imec and Hasselt University looks at the damaging impact that PID can have on bifacial technology, writes Michaël Daenen, a professor at EnergyVille and Hasselt University.

Fraunhofer ISE reveals Spain may host 5 GW module factory

The vertically integrated factory is expected to be located near Sevilla, in southern Spain. The factory will be owned and operated by the newly created company Greenland Gigafactory.

Chinese PV Industry Brief: First quarter brought 5.5 GW of new solar, Zhonghuan Semiconductor acquires stake in Maxeon

Solar demand grew around 40%, year-on-year, during the first three months of 2021 and wafer producer Zhonghuan Semiconductor has raised its holding in Singaporean solar manufacturer Maxeon to become its second-largest shareholder after Total.

UK’s Power Roll wants to manufacture solar films in India

The UK-based flexible solar film developer is expanding into the Indian market with Thermax as its market development and manufacturing partner.

No bifacial solar in West Africa? That’s likely to change soon

A technology-focused event held by the Africa Solar Industry Association has heard development pipelines across the continent are swiftly changing to accommodate double-sided PV panels, and that’s good news for solar tracker providers too.

Heterojunction design for 26%-efficient copper bismuth oxide thin-film solar cell

Researchers in Bangladesh have simulated a solar cell based on a copper bismuth oxide material, used as an absorber, with n-type cadmium sulfide (CdS) utilized as a buffer layer. In the experiment, the device achieved an efficiency of 26.0%, an open-circuit voltage of 0.97 V, a short-circuit current density of 31.61 milliampere per square centimeter, and a fill factor of 84.58%.

Energy Storage

Featured

New EU battery rules support a sustainable industry

On Dec. 10, European Internal Market and Environment Commissioners Thierry Breton and Virginijus Sinkevičius, in conjunction with Vice President Maroš Šefčovič, announced a keenly anticipated piece of legislation: the commission’s proposal for modernized EU battery rules. Pia Alina Lange – head of communications for Recharge, the European battery industry association – says that while there are potential pitfalls with the new regulation, it could pave the way to sustainable industry development.

Engie exits storage business

The French energy company sold its 60.5% stake in Engie EPS to the Taiwan Cement Corporation for around €132 million.

Uzbekhydroenergo, EDF join forces to develop pumped hydro, floating PV

The two companies are initially planning to build a 200 MW pumped-hydro facility in the Bostanlyk district of Uzbekistan’s Tashkent region.

GM and LG Energy plan a $2.3 billion electric vehicle battery plant

The automaker’s future Ultium-powered EVs are designed for Level 2 and DC fast charging. Most will have 400V battery packs and up to 200 kW fast charging capability.

Mathematical model to couple pumped hydro with wind and solar in islands

An group of international scientists has developed a mathematical model to design hybrid renewable energy systems relying on pumped hydro storage for islands. According to their analysis, which was applied to the Ometepe island in Nicaragua, a similar system could provide a cost of energy ranging from €0.047/kWh to €0.095/kWh.

Australian green hydrogen project grows from 1 GW to 8 GW, following commitment from Total Eren

Province Resources has signed a memorandum of understanding with French renewable energy developer Total Eren, which could see the two companies have equal shares in Province’s HyEnergy Zero Carbon Hydrogen project proposed in northwest Western Australia.

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